Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies

 

Today is the Monday of all Mondays because it’s the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

Yep, by the time you finish reading this sentence I’ll probably have already greeted all my new little first graders and started to conquer this slightly chaotic-nerve wracking-yet seriously exciting-whirlwindย of a day. I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it! Any other teachers out there?? You totally catch my drift.

But we’re going to end our conversation about school there (because I’m writing this post on Sunday and I’m trying not to think about tomorrow anymore) and talk about the reason we’re really here today—- THESE BURGERS.

If that’s actually what we can call them…. because they’re not really burgers, but they’re on a burger bun, so it’s fine ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

 

I got the idea for these Crispy Polenta Burgers from this awesome restaurant we have here in downtown Durham called Bull City Burger & Brewery. Of course, most of their menu is highly meat-based (but it’s all free-range and grass-fed, so I thought that was pretty fantastic), but they have this Farmer’s Market Polenta Veggie Burger on tap every time I come and it’s literally one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten between two pieces of bread!

Let’s talk polenta for a hot second. Polenta and I have a very interesting relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE polenta. Like so so much. See here and here for proof.

But I always forget about polenta. Like when I’m planning out my meals for the week, polenta is never something that just jumps into my mind asย anย “I need to eat this immediately” kind of thing. But when I do have those magic moments/ cravings, I’m always kicking myself for not making it more often.

And these burgers are no exception to that.

 

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

 

So we start by making your traditional polenta (cornmeal, broth, a little butter, salt and pepper). Then, to turn them into burgers, I pour it on a parchment lined baking sheet, smooth it out into a 1 1/2” thick rectangle and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Once it’s chilled and firm, I cut the polenta into squares, baste with some olive oil, and stick it in the oven to get nice and crispy.

To take these polenta burgers over the edge, I decided to top them with some fresh basil cashew pesto (but you can use any kind) and some roasted summer veggies (because we’re milking every last chance we can get to eat them before they’re gone).

As soon as I took my first bite of this burger, I was beyond hooked! That crispy, creamy bite of polenta mixed with the warm, garlicy pesto and the tender roasted veggies— now that’s my kind of burger! It’s literally different from ANY meat-less burger I’ve ever had. Such a great way to change things up every now and then.

 

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

 

So the next time you’re craving a veggie burger, I totally recommend giving these babies a go. They’re a little time consuming, mostly because of the refrigeration step, but I promise you they’re worth that extra bit of love!

As always, if you get a chance to try one of my recipes, tag @pumpkinandpb on Instagram or Twitter, or of course, snap me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now let’s go rock this first day of school— and celebrate with burgers once we’re done!

 

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies

Serves 8
Prep time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 55 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter (vegan or regular)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • grape tomatoes
  • sliced zucchini and yellow squash
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • whole wheat or gluten free buns

for the pesto

  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more if needed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper, as desired

Note

*For a more detailed description on how to make pesto, check out my Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto recipe

Directions

Step 1
In a medium-sized pot, bring vegetable stock and milk to a boil and whisk in cornmeal until smooth. Turn heat down to medium low and cook for another 6-8 minutes, whisking throughout. Remove from heat and stir in butter, basil, salt, and pepper.
Step 2
Pour polenta onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread into a 1-2 inch rectangle. Make sure the surface is smooth. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Step 3
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Once polenta is chilled, cut it into 8 equal squares and brush it with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (or until golden brown). While polenta is cooking, also roast your tomatoes and zucchini and squash in the same oven on a parchment lined baking sheet. I just drizzle them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook for 20-25 minutes.
Step 4
While the polenta and veggies are cooking, whip up your pesto in a high speed blender or food processor. Just place all the pesto ingredients into a blend and puree until desired consistency is reached.*
Step 5
Time to layer your burgers! Start with a bun and layer one polenta "burger" on top, followed by a generous spoonful of pesto, one slice of each zucchini and squash, and some roasted tomatoes. Dig on in!

Polenta Veggie Burgers with Pesto & Veggies {vegan, gluten free} // pumpkinandpeanutbutter.com

pumpkinandpb

Hi, Iโ€™m Liz and this is my food blog where I share my love of healthy foods and whole ingredients. You will find mostly vegetarian dishes, plenty of sweets, and lots of love from this little kitchen in Durham, North Carolina!

11 Comments

  1. OMG this is SO CREATIVE. I love this idea!! And perfect topping choices too girl. Good luck with teaching the little ones!! You’ll be great I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Erica!! The toppings literally take it to the next level ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Rebecca! They taste pretty darn killer too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. These sound AMAZING, Liz!! I’ve still never tried polenta, but since you added pesto to the mix, these will be made asap! I hope you had a great first day back!!

    • You MUST try it! It goes so perfectly with pesto too ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I hope the first day went well!!! These look absolutely amazing, Liz! Ohmygosh I want one riiiight now (and I am lying in bed about to sleep so that’s saying a lot). Definitely gotta try this out ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Whew it was sure an exhausting one! But we all survived ๐Ÿ˜‰ You will LOVE it!

    • Thanks Joscelyn ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll have to let me know what you think!

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